Statement marking the seven-year anniversary of the WTC Health Program
The World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program is marking its seventh year since being established in July 2011. Created by Congress, the WTC Health Program provides no-cost medical monitoring and treatment to those whose health has been impacted by the September 11th terrorist attacks, their aftermath, and the rescue and cleanup operations that followed. With the anniversary of the Program’s launch comes the opportunity to reaffirm our mission of providing expert, compassionate healthcare to the Responders and Survivors that were there almost 17 years ago.
Over the past year, we have seen many successes. We have welcomed over 8,400 new members into the Program (June 2017 to June 2018). We upgraded our online application system to accept supporting documentation uploads and streamline the submission process. We unveiled a redesigned website to make important Program information easier to find and read, and launched Facebook and Twitter accounts to share this information with you. We also held our first Research to Care Community Engagement Event to help explain how our scientific research findings inform the care you receive.
But with success also came challenges. Applications to the Program have increased almost two-fold, and enrollments are up approximately 66% in the last year. This in turn has led to higher call volumes and longer wait times for initial health evaluations, especially for screening-eligible survivors. We hear your frustration and we are working diligently to increase capacity to better serve you.
Despite this, it is still critically important that we continue to reach out to potential members. If you know someone that you think may be eligible for the Program, please encourage them to visit our website at www.cdc.gov/wtc or call us at 1-888-982-4748. There are many people that we have yet to reach, and we remain dedicated to helping all eligible members receive expert care.
The Program’s membership is growing steadily and 9/11 health research continues to advance our understanding of the effects of 9/11 exposures on Responders and Survivors. With funding dedicated until 2090, I am greatly encouraged by what the future of the WTC Health Program has to offer. We are honored to serve you and the rest of the 9/11 community in the years to come.
John Howard, M.D.
Administrator, World Trade Center Health Program